The Almost Porteño
I have two weeks left in Buenos Aires, and I honestly don’t want to leave just yet. As I go about my day, I look around at my surroundings and take in the reality that I have been living in a foreign country for the past 3 months.
My days in Buenos Aires are never quite normal. I am constantly learning and taking mental notes about a culture that is so unique and distinct from mine. From the clunky platform shoes that almost every woman wears, to la hora pico (rush hour) on the Subte; everything that is Buenos Aires, I have finally grown to love.
This way of life has become the new normal for my everyday affairs.
I have traveled to a lot of different countries as a tourist but this is my first experience traveling as a temporary citizen of a country. A major learning component of this trip has been getting rid of the idea that I am a tourist. For example, I soon realized that here in Argentina the majority of the people will not speak English conversationally when they first meet you. This is not because they don’t know English, but because it’s not their first language, nor is it native to the country. It’s ironic because many individuals from the United States expect others who come to the U.S. to speak English, when in fact English is not even our official language. Yet, when traveling to a country whose language is officially Spanish, they seem so inconvenienced that people refuse to speak English. I have realized that tourists from United States miss so many important aspects of other cultures because they travel under the idea that a foreign country has to “cater” to them.
However, though most of my classes are in English, my Castellano (Spanish) has greatly improved since arriving in Argentina. For those with a strong desire to travel, I recommend that you first develop a basic understanding of a nation’s culture and language before traveling. This foundation has allowed me to not only improve my language skills but also meet and interact more efficiently with the people living here. Whether you’re asking for directions when you get lost (which will most likely happen) or having the tools to know when you are being overcharged at a restaurant, these skills matter.
The language, culture and Buenos Aires way of life has become the new normal for my everyday affairs. This experience has put my major and my career goals into perspective that as an International Studies and Latin American Studies major. I have met so many amazing and interesting people in Argentina, and now I can no longer be reclusive. I will never forget them nor this place.